TITLE: Fight Of A Lifetime

SUMMARY: Carl has sued for sole custody of Sam. Nina is on the verge of losing her son. Will she allow Andy to help her fight for her son and her placement in Everwood? Or will she allow her awaken mixed up feelings get in the way?

CATEGORY: Family / Friendship/ Hurt/Comfort/ Romance/ Drama/ Angst/ Tragedy

RATING: T

Author's Note: I posted the beginning of this story back in December of '06. But among computer problems and sadly a major case of writers block – I had to put the story on the back burner. Happily I now own season 2 on DVD – so I get to watch what is one of my favorite episodes Unfinished Business once more. My muse is back in full swing – and happily I'm ready to finish this story.

I have decided to move it to this account, because I don't want it to get lost among all the other unfinished stories from the original account.

PRELUDE

PROBLEMS STACKING UP AGAINST NINA

Andy Brown walked out of his front door closing it behind him, and he turned to walk down his porch when he saw that his next door neighbor, and best friend Nina Feeney locking her own front door. "Hey Nina!" He waved with a wide smile as Nina turned around.

"Hey there Andy." Nina said her face lighting up at the sight of Andy. She walked over so that she could stand by the railing that faced the Brown home. "Heading into town?"

Andy nodded as he walked over to stand by his railing. He put his hands deep into his well worn wrangler jeans pocket. "How about you?"

"The same." Nina said.

"Want to go together?" Andy nodded towards his car.

"Sure." Nina said quickly … more quickly than what was required. She suddenly shook her head. "Actually Andy, no I don't want to go together. I mean I want to go together but I don't think it would be wise to go together. You know what I mean." She shut her mouth as she realized what she had just blabbed out. "Don't mind me. I'm actually in a rush, so I'm just going to …" Nina turned and walked down her steps. "go." With that she quickly walked to her car.

"Nina!" Andy called out as he rushed down his stairs. But he wasn't fast enough as Nina got into her car, and shut the door in his face. He raised his hand, and knocked; but Nina wouldn't turn to face him. She just went to start her car. Only problem with a quick get away for her was that the car wouldn't start. Not even a whirling coughing sound.

"Come on damn you. Start all ready. Don't you know that I embarrassed myself totally in front of Andy?" Nina whispered frustrated to her car. She knew she was having engine problem; she meant to get the car to the shop but she didn't have enough money yet to even think about taking the car in.

Andy knocked one more time, and when it became obviously clear that Nina wasn't going to turn to acknowledge him. He put his hand on the door and opened it. What he heard broke his heart. Not the actual words – but the feelings behind them.

"Damn it I don't have the money for this. Come on baby work with me on this and start all ready." Nina said with tears steaming down her checks. She didn't realize that Andy had opened her door.

Andy put his hand on Nina's shoulder.

"Holy shit!" Nina screamed at the touch of an unexpected hand on her shoulder. Even before her head swung around she knew it was Andy who had his hand on her shoulder. She always knew when Andy touched her without her seeing him. She could always sense when he was near her. But the touch surprised her, and she knew deep inside that Andy had heard what she had cried.

Andy's hand jerked off of Nina's shoulder as if it were on fire. "Nina, I'm sorry. I should have said something so I wouldn't have freaked you out."

Nina wiped the tears off of her checks. "Andy. I'm sorry that I freaked out the way I did. I should have realized that you would open the door after all the knocking you have done on my window." She shook her head and continued to blabber. She couldn't believe that she was blabbing so much. She, Nina Feeney never blabbed. Ever. But today she had blabbed twice …. And in under twenty minutes. "You have a nice time in town. Don't worry about me; I'll walk. It's a good day for a nice walk." She grabbed her purse, got out of her car. After placing it onto her shoulder she shut, and locked the door. "See you." She moved sideways so she could pass Andy.

Andy reached out, and gently gripped Nina's right elbow, and in the process stopped her rapid move to leave him. "Get in my car Nina." Andy said firmly. He didn't let Nina's arm go as he started to slowly walk towards his car. He moved slowly so that Nina didn't fall when he moved first.

Nina had no choice but to follow Andy to the passenger side of his car. "Andy, you don't have to give me a lift. I can walk to town. I do know how to get there after all." She laughed – but she could tell it was a forced one. She cringed knowing that Andy could tell also. If not by her harsh laugh – but by her body language. "I have lived in Everwood my entire life after all." She just couldn't get her mouth to shut it.

Andy didn't reply he just unlocked the door, and opened it. "Either you get in yourself Nina; or you force me to have to lift you, and place you in myself." He finally spoke. He didn't know what was going on with Nina since like twenty minutes ago; but he was by no way allowing Nina to be by herself right now.

Nina sighed deeply, and got into the car, so finally Andy's hand was off of her elbow. Feeling a lose deep within with removal of his hand. She buckled her seat belt, and turned her face away from Andy by staring out of the front window shield.

Andy hid a smile as he locked the door before shutting it. He walked around to the drivers side, and got in. He started the car and drove off down the street. "What to tell me what's going on?" He finally asked after a few minutes of driving.

Nina had seriously considered unlocking the door after Andy had started towards the driver's side, and getting the hell out of Andy's car. But she knew that Andy would just come back around, and grab her once more, and perhaps take her around to the driver's side, and get her to get in form there keeping a firm hold of her in the process. She didn't know if her system could allow that much of close contact with Andy. So she just bit her lip and stayed where she was.

"No." Nina replied with more force than she intended.

Andy drove on in silence. He knew that what ever was brothering Nina, she wouldn't share with him. At least not while he was driving.

"Andy, town is that way." Nina finally spoke after ten minutes of tension filled silence. She waved her right hand to the left of her as the road to town passed by them.

"I know. We aren't going to town." Andy replied.

"I thought you needed to go to town." Nina said in confusion.

"Town isn't going any where." Andy quipped.

"But I need to go to town." Nina replied not even cracking a smile.

"Not right now you don't." Andy replied calmly.

"Excuses me?!" Nina raised her right eye brows as she finally turned to face Andy's side of the face.

"You don't need to go to town right now." Andy turned to face Nina with a serious look in his eyes before he turned back to the road.

"Where do I need to be right now than?!" Nina folded her arms across her chest.

"On the mountain top. With me." Andy said. "I'm glad you are wearing your hiking boots."

"I don't want to go hiking." Nina said stubbornly stuck her chin out. She didn't realize what a beautiful picture she made sulking the way she did.

Andy hid a smile as he looked at Nina once more. He regretted that he had to turn back to the road than. He could have stared at Nina Feeney all day. He drove in silence till he finally stopped the car, and turned it off. "Now Nina; either you go up the mountain with me, or sit in the car, or have a nice long walk to town. Your choice." Andy said getting out of the car, and locking his door, and pocketing his keys. He turned from the car and started down the path that would lead up the mountain.

Nina sighed deeply through her nose and knew that Andy wouldn't come off of the mountain unless she went up to fetch him. She hated it when Andy put her in this position. Not hate, she actually liked it. But she didn't want to admit it to herself or to Andy. She was afraid that she would just blurt out her true feelings for Andy Brown. Either when he did something stupid and she was fighting with him over it; sometimes she didn't have that much control on her tongue when she was angry.

Nina opened her door and after locking her side she closed the door. She slowly followed Andy down the path. She soon caught up with him because she knew that once he knew that she was behind him, he would slow down so she could catch up.

The two best friends walked quietly up the path until they reached the top of the mountain.

"So do you want to tell me about it Nina?" Andy finally broke the silence as he turned to face Nina. Nina still had her faced firmly facing the spectacular view that was hidden from most of the world expect for Everwood, Colorado. "Nina?" He decided to try once again to place his hand on her shoulder. At least this time he remembered to say her name first before he did it. He just hoped that she wouldn't freak out.

"Carl wants a divorce." Nina softly said as she stared blankly at the view in front of her. She felt Andy's hand on her shoulder and she didn't want it to ever leave. So she didn't move a muscle.

"I'm sorry Nina." Andy softly said. She still hadn't faced him. He did step closer to her and wrapped his arm across her back. He gently started to massage her shoulder blade.

"He all ready has a lawyer lined up. He had paid top dollar." Nina said finally turning to face Andy. "God Andy, if I don't have freaking money to fix my freaking car than how the hell do I come up with money to hire even a decent lawyer. I'm going to lose Sam. I don't care that much about my house. But I just can't lose my son. He's mine. I can't lose Sam." She moved even closer to Andy, and wrapped her arms around his neck and broke down weeping into his neck.

"You won't lose Sam, Nina. I promise." Andy softly but firmly said as he wrapped his arms around Nina and pulled her closer to him. He felt her tighten her hold on him as she buried even deeper into his skin. He knew that he would gladly pay for all her lawyer fees. He wasn't even going to offer his help because he knew Nina would just refuse him. He couldn't allow her to lose Sam. He just had to calm her down and get her back home first than he would be making a call his lawyer in New York.

She gathered herself back tightly back together. Usually being in Andy's warm arms helped calm her down. But her anxiety over the possible loss of her child overwhelmed her. It pushed all thoughts of trying to hold onto the love for Andrew Brown out the window. It was like those feelings never existed in the first place. How could they? With the possibility of losing her child. Her child. Oh God she was going to lose her baby. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she pushed herself away from the safety of Andy's arms.

Andy's heart broke as he watched the woman in front of him in freak out mode.

Tend carefully Andy, she's not strong enough for you to micromanage her on coming fight for her son. Just remember that she's your best friend and is relying on you as such. She doesn't need a micromanage in her corner – she needs her best friend.

Andy nodded at Julia in front of him. He simply watched as his late wife faded. Holding out his hand and touching Nina's right arm. Nina jerked away and stumbled backwards – her eyes wife in fear. "It's going to be all right, Nina. You aren't going to lose Sam. I'm not going to allow you to lose your son." He said in a firm tone. Stepping forward, "I give you my word, Nina, you aren't going to lose your son."

"I all ready have." Tears rolled hotly down her cheeks.

"No," Andy adamantly said. "The fight hasn't even began yet."

"Sam wants to be with his father," Nina said as she tried to breath around the lump in her throat. "Her misses his dad so much …. that he says that he wants to live with him. Full time – all the time. Sam says that he wants his dad more than he wants me." Turning away from his compassionate eyes – she tried to take in the view of the valley below. "I have lost my son."

"He's six years old, Nina. He just misses his father is all. But he misses you too whenever he is away from you." Andy said stepping and standing shoulder to shoulder to her. Turning his eyes from the view onto the side of her face. "Whenever he's over at the house – and you are either working or well, working. He always asks after you. 'When is mommy coming home?' is out of his mouth literally every twenty minutes." Sighing, "He's six years old and wants his parents in his line of sight all the time.

"He's a child whom just wants to be safe and secure in his parents arms. Forever." He sighed, "That's what every child – no matter how old they get wants in life."

Her hands lifted up and wiped the tears with shaking hands. "I know what you are saying makes sense Andy, but right now I'm just so fearful that I'm losing my baby – and no matter how much I fight – I'll lose him for good." Biting her lips and turning her face to meet his brown eyes. "I'm not ready to let my baby go. I'm not ready." She whispered.

"You won't have to let your baby go, Nina, not until you are ready." Andy said in a soft but firm voice. His resolve harding even more deeper than ever before. She wasn't going to lose her child. Not again. Not ever again. His mind drifted back to the previous year when she gave up her surrogate daughter. Even though Nina didn't use her egg for the surrogacy – she did use her body. Her emotions are tied up with that little girl. It was bound to happen. That's natural. A being growing inside is just bound to leave a emotional impact.

He had been by her side when she went through the depression of the afterbirth – and her longing to hold the baby girl close to her. But knowing that she never could. That she truly had no right too. He was the one whom she had turn too when she needed warm arms to wrap around her. He was the one whom she had to turn too when she couldn't gather or count on her own strength. Not Carl. Him. Day or night he was available and by her side during the time of the loss of her baby.

He would awaken from a deep and Julia filled sleep knowing that Nina needed him. He had gotten up and told Ephram that he had to listen for Delia – and he went over to Nina's. Without bothering to knock or ring the bell – he just used the key that she gave him. He usually found her in the living room – curled up on her chair with tears rolling down her cheeks. Sometimes he found her sound asleep in bed with tears rolling down her cheeks. There had been times when he found her in his own living room. Sam would be sacked out on the couch – while she was curled up in his favorite chair with silent tears.

Tightening his hold on his best friend's body he vowed with his chin resting on her head, "I promise you, Nina, you aren't going to lose Sam." He felt her grow tense than frail in a nanosecond. Her arms just tighten more tightly around him – as she rested her head against his heart.

He could tell she was desperately trying to believe him. But her fears were getting in the way.

He would keep his promise to her. She and Sam were his family now. He never let down his family.

END OF PRELUDE